Baltimore accepts Rockefeller offer
By Irene C. Kuo
Whitehead Institute Director David Baltimore '61 will become the sixth president of Rockefeller University on July 1, the board of trustees of the New York institution announced Tuesday.
Baltimore, who is also professor of biology, said upon accepting Rockefeller's offer, "It was a very difficult decision for me. The remarkable success of the Whitehead Institute and my own eventful and enormously satisfying career at MIT, now in its 21st year, caused me to think long and hard about this opportunity."
Charles Sawhill, former secretary of energy and current chairman of the Whitehead board of directors, heads the committee that will search for Baltimore's successor at Whitehead. Other members include former Provost Frances E. Low; Richard O. Hynes '71, head of the biology department; Herman N. Eisen, professor of biology; Maxine Singer, president of the Carnegie Institute and a leading biologist; and Susan Whitehead, board member and daughter of the philanthropist whose gift created the MIT-affiliated biomedical research institute.
Baltimore's special assistant, Alfred Kildow, would not speculate on who might become Whitehead's next director, though he said that the search committee will consider people both within and without MIT and added that its members were not automatically exempt from consideration.
Lured by "challenge"
"The challenge of Rockefeller has caught me," Baltimore, the winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Medicine, said Tuesday. "It is much larger than Whitehead and more diverse in its activities, yet it still lets me focus my activities in the area I understand best, biomedical research." Increasing the teaching role of the university, increasing the role of younger scientists, and positioning the university to lead in understanding the nervous system are among his goals.
Baltimore's decision came two and a half weeks after representatives from Rockefeller University, a biomedical research and teaching institution, offered him the position a second time. He turned down their first offer upon returning from an event where Whitehead scientists presented their research.
"He realized what exciting things were going on and felt rather exhilarated," according to Alfred Kildow, Baltimore's special assistant.
Baltimore has been director of the Whitehead Institute since its founding in 1982 with one of the largest philanthropic gifts made to American science. He has gained recognition for speaking on behalf of the scientific community on such issues as genetic research, priorities for national research, biological warfare, and the regulation of science.